Western Sydney Peace Group gets connected and vocal

Issue 

BY MICHAEL DE WALL

SYDNEY — On March 16, 200 attended an anti-war rally in Mt Druitt organised by the Western Sydney Peace Group (WSPG).

The protest was remarkable for the social, cultural and political diversity of those present. WSPG Tim Vollmer said many people from greater western Sydney did not want a war in their name. "We've got together and shown there are people from every race, every religion, every political party who oppose this war. We've come together, not as one group or a small set of individuals but as a whole range of people who represent a whole community.

"It might not look like many people here today, but all over the country there are hundreds of different little rallies this weekend, groups like us in every major centre joining together. We're not a minority. Most of Australia agrees with us."

In welcoming protesters to Dharug land, Indigenous spokesperson Leanne Tobin said: "I can't help thinking about those families in Iraq who also know only a little about what is really going on and are about to suffer extreme distress whilst in their own land. With the coming of technology and multi-media these people have become our neighbours. The suffering of these people now enters our lounge-room, making it difficult for us to disassociate from it."

Tim Chapman of the National Union of Students told the rally: "John Howard has always had the highest level of contempt for people like us, working people from western Sydney. That is why his government has continually undermined every institution and social program that helps working people like us.

"He has aimed millions of dollars at smashing unions, taken billions of dollars out of health and education, introduced massive tax cuts for big business and the corporate sector. Now he plans to fund a war in which, if any Australian dies, they will probably be from a working background. No, the casualties of war are never drawn from the ranks of the leisure classes. They are from western Sydney. They are me, they are you, your brother and sister, your mates. Not John Howard's mates, not his children, not people from his neighbourhood."

Greens state MP Ian Cohen reinforced the class analysis by concluding with a reminder of the economic imperative that underpins any war on Iraq. "Let's make no mistake about it. It's about locking up one of the world's greatest oil reserves for Western usage. That's what it's all about and we want to you to keep saying that over and over again. This, again, is an economic war."

From Green Left Weekly, March 26, 2003.
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